Archive for the ‘Music’ Tag

The noose is finally tightening around the neck of serial rapist and sexual predator R-Kelly   Leave a comment

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…If any celebrity with such a perverse, dark track rcord deserves no more chances and has forefeit the benefit of the doubt, it’s this man. I am utterly disgusted by the fact Black Americans are STILL split on him. There is nothing to debate: He is a serial rapist, sexual predator and a pedophile. He went to prison for it, too.

Some of you may remember this post I made about him 6 years back. R. Kelly has recently returned to the spotlight because of the Lifetime documentary titled Surviving R. Kelly. R. Kelly reportedly threatened to sue the network for defamation in a bid to block the documentary from being aired. The documentary highlights women who have escaped R. Kelly’s “Sex Cult”. I want to repeat what I said six years ago: R. Kelly being a sexual predator is well documented. In one of his albums, he basically admits to being a sex addict. This man needs to be taken off the streets and put in a cell for the rest of his life.

Will Smith’s wife and fellow actress Jada Pinkett Smith recently Tweeted she doesn’t understand why so many are either slow to condemn him or quick to discredit the black women who have come forward with alliegations of Sexual Assault and Rape by him because he is a black celebrity. We went through this with Bill Cosby, who was convicted and sentenced to 3 to 10 years in prison for rape he did 30 years ago. There’s also Chris Brown, who beat his then girlfriend Rhianna. I still remember hearing some folks saying she threw herself down a flight of stairs. Really? In general, America has always been split when it comes to victims of rape and sexual assault coming forward at the end of the day. More so when the accused is a public figure or celebrity.

…R.Kelly, though? He is indefensible unless you’re on his payroll or one of his groupies.

Talk Show host Wendy Williams once commented on a closed door meeting she had with him about 10 years back. According to her, R. Kelly allowed her to ask him about anything and everything under the condition it be kept between them. I assume she had to sign a non-disclosure agreement from how she described the encounter. She clearly couldn’t get into specifics but basically said he denied none of the rumors and alliegations at the time.

I’ll say it again: This man belongs in a prison cell for the rest of his life.

In the weeks since the documentary first aired, R. Kelly has lost endorsements and public pressure is being put on several record labels and iTunes to drop him. As the saying goes, the longest rope has an end. I am hopeful that this time, we will see the complete and utter end of R.Kelly.

 

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It’s a shame we had to wait 25 years for the Queen Biopic Bohemian Rhapsody   Leave a comment

Image result for Bohemian Rhapsody

 

…The main reason being the band’s lead vocalist Freddie Mercury is Bisexual. The biopic follows the rise of Queen, their falling out and reunion in time to perform at Live Aid in 1985 does not shy away from “The Controversy”. I had heard rumors there was some difficulty casting the role of Freddie Mercury specifically because of that. Rami Malek, who landed the role did the job well. Mercury’s sexuality had been questioned before and during his time apart from the band and the movie doesn’t shy away from it. There are a few moments in the movie some may find uncomfortable to see or have their kids see (The movie is rated PG-13). I won’t say what they are since those moments should not be focused on.

The real focus should be the movie’s namesake song:

 

Originally released in 1975 on the Album A Night at the Opera, the nearly 6 minute track bombed HARD though the band vehemently defended it and stood by it as their greatest song ever. It wasn’t until its appearance in a certain movie 17 years later the genre-crossing song finally got the long overdue respect it deserved.

…What movie? This one:

 

 

The story goes Mike Myers, who was a huge Queen fan insisted on Bohemian Rhapsody over I’m in Love with my Car, which is on the same Album and was considered a better fit for the sequence. Myers was so insistent on Bohemian Rhapsody he threatened to scrap the entire movie if it was not used. He not only starred in the movie but was also the Executive Producer so…yeah. It’s said Freddie Mercury saw the above scene before he died of AIDS-related Pnemonia in 1992, liked it and gave his blessing for the song to be used in Wayne’s World.

…Bohemian Rhapsody dethroned the stanglehold Michael Jackson had on the top charts for almost 10 years running. This despite the song having been originally released back in 1975.

Anywho, the movie ends with the 1985 Live Aid concert. Billions were raised to help with the severe famines in Africa. Michael Jackson’s iconic single We Are the World (featuring a who’s who of legendary artists including Stevie Wonder and Kenny Rogers) was made around the same time as the concert and if you ask me, there should be one every 5 to 10 years. Freddie Mercury, who knew his time was short pushed for Queen to be included in the concert. He passed away 7 years later in 1992. The surviving members of Queen started an AIDS research group in his honor.

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t share this awesome cover from 6 years ago:

 

 

The video went viral at the time but as you can see, it’s a drunk guy singing Bohemian Rhapsody from the back of a police car.

…Then there is this:

 

 

…I know there were people in that crowd who were at Live Aid in 1985. The story goes, Green Day planned to do an instrumental and ran the pre-recorded track first when the crowd started singing. They were so moved, they fired up the band and recorded over the pre-recording.

Queen’s impact crosses generations. Every time the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Briuns won a title I would fire up The Anthem:

You know the song but might not have known where it came from ^_^

On that note:

…You see where I’m going now? Queen is Timeless.

As a bonus, here is their performance from Live Aid 1985 in full:

From the Video’s Description:

00:36 – Bohemian Rhapsody
02:42 – Radio Ga Ga
06:53 – Ay Oh!
07:34 – Hammer To Fall
12:08 – Crazy Little Thing Called Love
16:03 – We Will Rock You
17:18 – We Are The Champions
21:12 – Is This The World We Created…?

I bolded the ones that made the cut in the movie, in order. They had to cut the other 3 for time presumably. The home release will undoubtedly have the full set plus the original concert as bonus content.

 

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These songs helped me get through the last 12 months   Leave a comment

…For those who didn’t know, today is my birthday. I would’ve posted this sooner but I was at Anime Boston until about 2 hours ago. That’ll be my whole weekend. LOL.

Anywho, here are 15 songs I have listened to quite alot since my last birthday. No doubt most of these will surprise you:

15. Despacito by Luis Fonsi feat. Daddy Yankee
14. Team Skull Theme from Pokemon Sun/Moon and Pokemon UltraSun/UltraMoon
13. Lost in Thoughts All Alone by Reina Strober (Fire Emblem Fates)
12. Some Bodies Gonna Get It (WWE Hall of Famer Mark Henry’s Entrance Music)
11. The Future (WWE Superstar Asuka’s Entrance Music)
10. The Rising Sun (WWE Superstar Shinsuke Nakamura’s Entrance Music)
9. Champion by The Roots
8. River in the Desert by Lyn (Persona 5)
7. Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There by Lyn (Persona 5 OP)
6. Beneath the Mask by Lyn (from Persona 5)
5. The Hero!! by The JAM Project (One Punch Man Season 1 OP)
4. History Maker by Dean Fujioka (Yuri!!! On Ice OP)
3. Mother Africa by The African Children’s Choir
2. N’kosi Siekele Afrika (God Bless Africa) – South Africa’s National Anthem
1. Unto Us (Isaiah 9) by Sandi Patti

…I believe this is the first time I have put together a list that didn’t include anything Michael Jackson. All of these songs are on my iPod as well. My playlist is very…international to say the least. Feel free to look up all of these if you’d like. My reasons for putting all of these songs on the list has a story and I will update this post to explain after the weekend.

For now, here’s 3 of the songs courtesy of YouTube:

 

…Update to this post to come sometime next week.

Also, please donate via PayPal if you are able. I’m mostly saying that because it’s my birthday but really, it would be appreciated ^_^

Eminem FLAYS Donald Trump in 5-minute Freestyle   Leave a comment

Here is the video so many are talking about:

And here are my thoughts on it:

…You can be sure this is FAR from over. LOL.

The video was done last week but its release was delayed so it could be edited for airing during the BET Awards the other day.

…Know what I just realized? Aside from the typical internet trolls and usual Yes-Men, no one is bashing Eminem for this. I mean NO ONE. That should tell you something.

Rap and Hip Hop’s Dark History: Anything For Money   Leave a comment

I want to preface this post with these two videos:

 

…Let’s be honest: This was what fueled the sharp rise of Hip Hop in the U.S. in the 1980s, the deaths of The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur in the mid-1990s, the industry’s implosion during the mid-2000s and the mostly watered down stuff we see in the mainstream today.

Now me, I’m old enough to both remember and appreciate The System (The Government) and the Music Industry’s carefully laid out plans to indoctrinate, manipulate and brainwash the unsuspecting masses with African Americans as the primary focus. Most Blacks stopped listening to and playing Rock and Roll after Elvis Presley and Jerry Lewis made it famous among White Americans during the 1970s. The politics of the time and the start of Reagan’s “War on Drugs” during the 1980s left many African American youth without a healthy outlet to ease pent-up frustration.

That all changed when Hip Hop was “re-discovered” in The Bronx in the early 1980s. Its popularity in African American cities exploded almost overnight. It came in at just the right time: Many young African Americans were researching their ancestors. Hip Hop, which survived in Africa was virtually unknown in the U.S. The self-appointed keepers of Hip Hop Lore, the original grandmasters and DJs of the early 80s still living in the Bronx often talk about how far Rap and Hip Hop has gone from its early years.

Here’s Kool Moe Dee’s Wild Wild West:

…And N.W.A.’s Express Yourself:

One thing both songs have in common is they tell a clear, concise story or message. THIS was Rap and Hip Hop’s original purpose. It’s like I said before: Rap is poetry over beats. Like other genres of music, Hip Hop is used to tell a story or message, usually about the times or who you are as well as uplift and empower.

…How then did we go from the above to this:

 

…Given I talked about the first song two years ago, my opinion of this type of music has changed since then. I now consider both Silento’s Watch Me Whip/Nae Nae and Soulja Boy’s Crank That to be fake Hip Hop and actually do more harm than good to the history of the genre. Why? Because they’ve become the blueprint for how to make “Safe Hip Hop”. You know, stuff that won’t offend privileged White Americans who don’t want to be reminded of how good they have it compared to many African Americans.

The real problem with both of these “songs” and the copycats they spawned isn’t the dancing. The dancing is freaking awesome. The REAL problem is both “songs” are not real songs. I mean that literally and that’s why I threw in the quotes. Recite The Alphabet. Now Recite The Birthday Song (“Happy Birthday To You”). Notice how both songs don’t just have rhythm but have subtance and is purposeful. The above songs lack both substance and purpose. The focus of both songs is the dance and this is why they’re both so “simple”. All you hear is what would be the chorus in a normal song the whole time.

Let’s take a look at PSY’s Gangnam Style, which was recently dethroned on YouTube for Most Watched Ever:

Yes, it’s goofy and in Korean but this is still a full song. I’ve seen the lyrics translated into English so I can say that. Yes, the focus is obviously on the Horse Dance but it’s still a full freaking song.

All that said, let’s now look at the song the put the U.S. Government on edge:

…I decided to go with the full version so you have the full, political context of the song. Public Enemy put both the U.S. Government and the Music Industry on notice with this song: To empower young African Americans to become politically involved, politically engaged and demand change from both themselves and the system. Believe it or not, this scared The System even more than N.W.A.’s F*** tha Police. They shut down that song by simply saying anyone who listens to it hates police and the mainstream ate up that lie like candy.

As the 1990s began, Hip Hop Artists realized they were being forced to do one of two things: Avoid politics and increase their chances of making alot of money or dive into politics and risk not just being blackballed but even killed. Most picked the former. All you need to do is look at popular rap music from about…I wanna say 1992 to now. Most of it is about glorifying money, sex, drugs, violence, alcohol and guns. It wasn’t until about…I wanna say 2007 Artists started to avoid the subjects of drugs, alcohol and especially guns. They knew the history so…yeah.

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Back then, those who did weave politics into their music had some success early on but not for too long. The lucky ones survived the 90s. The unlucky ones…well, this brings me to Biggie and Pac. Let’s be honest, Tupac Shakur was killed because of his mother’s affiliation with The Black Panthers first and his early political messages second. The Notorious B.I.G.’s death was also politically motivated, as was the “so-called beef” between them. THAT was carefully orchestrated to ensure whichever was killed first, the other would automatically blamed so their death could be written off as “retaliation”.

…And both of them knew it. Listen to The Notorious B.I.G.’s last album Life After Death. At a glance, it can easily be written off as your standard rap beef mixed with sex talk. It wasn’t until AFTER he died people began to realize he’d actually foretold not just his death but the reason why he would be killed. Look up Notorious Thugs, My Downfall, What’s Beef?, You’re Nobody (‘Til Somebody Kills You) and Somebody’s Gotta Die on YouTube as I won’t post them all here to be nice to those who don’t have high-speed internet (LOL!). Overall, there is a reason it is considered his greatest masterpiece and one of the greatest Hip Hop Albums of the 1990s. Yes, it’s the same one Hypnotize is on as well (third song on the first disc).

All that said, sadly the overwhelming majority made their choice: They chose profits over principles. They chose to give in to the system they knew could care less about them or their fanbases. There is a certain irony with most of those rap videos of the 1990s and early 2000s: The jets, cars, mansions, clubs and and jewelry prominently featured in them? They were all rented. The scantly clad women and backup dancers were hired or volunteers to shoot the videos as well.

For what purpose?

Simple: The system wanted to present a false narrative and a false reality to African Americans. The reality of the 1990s: Bill Clinton’s Mass Incarceration Policy. It wasn’t until during his wife’s Presidential campaign last year he admitted it did more harm than good as African American men were unfairly profiled in large numbers. The rap videos and music glorifying guns, violence, drugs, alcohol, sex and money were all things many African American youth desired but felt would always be out of reach unless they pursued one of two paths: Music or Sports. Again, the irony being few actually made it in either. I see young artists trying to sell their music in Downtown Boston, Dudley Square and Grove Hall almost every day and have for 15 years.

The sad truth is there are no guarantees in either. While it IS true some of these artists used to sell drugs, the overwhelming majority of them never have despite rapping about it. It IS true some artists recorded while high on drugs or while drunk, though. Most out of their own admittance years after the fact.

It wasn’t until the late 2000s artists in general realized The Industry was taking a bigger and bigger cut of the profits from their music. Some artists didn’t write their own music and that made it easier for record labels to “own” an artist’s blood, sweat and tears. Turns out being indie or starting your own label is the smart thing to do. Few artists in general could pull it off and it was virtually unheard of in Hip Hop. Artists like LL Cool J and Ice Cube reinvented themselves as actors, leaving music entirely. The advent of social media changed the game. Now, artists could cut out the middle man and get their music to fans directly, keeping 100% of the profits.

This actually proved to be an interesting and unexpected perk for indie, underground and new artists as now they could record a song and sell it online by themselves. At the same time, established artists use Social Media to connect with fans and promote their music. Hip Hop and Rap have certainly come a long way. Given the recent politics of America, the time is right for a true revival of the genre with a new generation of promising talent driven not by greed but by passion.

In my next post on the subject, I will talk a bit more about how much Hip Hop has changed since 1979 and where it may be going. Here’s a video to check out you may find interesting until then:

…That cover picture. Really is something, isn’t it?

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Rap and Hip Hop’s Dark History: Hijacked by Greed   Leave a comment

 

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…Right.

This is the first of what will probably be a monthly series on the subject of Rap and Hip Hop’s evolution. I’ve thought about doing this for some time and more so after I wrote that blog post on why I never liked BET. I plan to write on this topic through June ^_^

Before we can talk about Hip Hop’s history over the last 30 years, we first need to talk about its origins. For those who do not know, Rap is basically poetry over beats. Rap as a genre dates back hundreds of years. Like Rock & R0ll, Blues and Jazz, its origins are African. The difference is unlike those three genres, it was not white-washed when it became popular in the U.S. Not until very recently, anyway.

Before it was…”re-discovered” in the Bronx in 1983, Hip Hop was lost to time. Much of that was due to the slave trade in West Africa that saw over 15 million Africans forced from their homes, packed on boats and sent to The Americas as slaves against their will. Before Slavery ravaged Africa, Hip Hop was used as a form of spoken word to preserve the histories of families, tribes, nations and traditions. Written literature did exist but it was far more efficient to use hip hop and rap to preserve and convey important and practical information.

When Africans were brought to the U.S., they used music to keep the old traditions alive as well as to communicate in secret under the watchful eyes of their new masters and overseers. The rise of Abolitionist Movement during the 19th Century saw most African American Slaves stripped of what was a way of life for them. They would begin to regain that lost knowledge before and during The Great Depression. As time marched on, old traditions long lost to time began to resurface.

 

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…It would be fair to say that Hip Hop was re-discovered in 1983 in the Bronx. Talk to anyone in the Bronx today and they will tell you that what Hip Hop was in the span of time from 1985 to about…I wanna say 2009 was not what Hip Hop was back then. What happened? Greed, that’s what. The Music industry wanting a piece of the pie and the allure of fame were the main reasons but they weren’t the only reasons Rap changed so suddenly and drastically in the mid-80s.

The message and Hip Hop’s purpose were what changed. Remember what I said at the top: Rap is basically poetry over beats. In the early years Hip Hop was used as a way to talk about politics, where you came from, who you are and what you’re about. You had rappers and artists talking about real issues, empowerment and learning from the mistakes of others. NWA’s “Express Yourself” is pointed to from that era as a song with positive messages though of course you had your occasional diss tracks. They were nowhere near as direct and person as they would become a few years later though.

Starting in 1985, we would see a dramatic shift in how Rap and Hip Hop would be used and how it would be viewed and consumed. People like to blame Public Enemy and later NWA for the dramatic shift but it would be more accurate to say the intentions of those who got into “The Rap Game”–and I will talk about this in a separate blog–were motivated by fame and fortune more than anything else.

…To Be Continued.

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TMZ: Followup to ‘Straight Outta Compton’ in the works   Leave a comment

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…Given Straight Outta Compton just passed the $80 Million mark in profits made since its premiere last weekend, I’m not exactly surprised. Since it IS TMZ that is reporting it, I admit I’m a bit skeptical to take the announcement at face value.

Thr sequel, titled Dogg Pound 4 Life will apparently pick up where the N.W.A’s biopic left off. The new movie will focus on Snoop Dogg and Tupac’s early rise though Warren G, Kurupt and the late Nate Dogg’s careers (For those who don’t know, he died five years ago after suffering a stroke) will be touched on as well. It will presumably cover Death Row Records’ rise and fall under Suge Knight, who Dr. Dre worked with during the label’s early years before leaving to found Aftermath.

Speaking of, I touched on this in my review of Straight Outta Compton but Suge is believed to have had a hand in the deaths of Tupac and Biggie Smalls and possibly Easy-E’s death as well. Suge is currently sitting in prison where he belongs on unrelated murder charges. And he’s dying from a medical complication. AND going blind. Sweet irony, I know.

Anyways, a source told TMZ the new movie will do what Straight Outta Compton didn’t do and not shy away from the influence Gang Violence had on West Coast Rap. I think that idea will backfire if they go all in. Eminem, 50 Cent and N.W.A. were smart in skirting around this in 8 Mile, Get Rich or Die Tryin’ and Straight Outta Compton, respectively. Not touching it doesn’t mean it wasn’t an influence. You only need to listen to their music to know it was. That doesn’t mean they need to revisit it in such lucid detail.

Ice Cube and his son put out a joint statement earlier today saying they will not be involved in the new movie despite rumors spread saying they were involved. Ice Cube is currently in Europe promoting Straight Outta Compton, which will make it European debut this weekend.  Andre Young, who played his father Dr. Dre in the N.W.A. biopic will reprise the role in the new movie, who is also co-producing the new film.

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Seriously thinking about it, there’s not much to tell about Death Row: The label was formed by Dr. Dre, Suge Knight, The D.O.C. and Snoop Dogg in 1991. The label fell apart after Dre left in 1995 and Tupac’s death the following year. Suge Knight serving time after Tupac’s death left the label without strong leadership and that ultimately killed the label, which filed for bankruptcy in 2009. Everyone was long gone by then to boot.Death Row died with Tupac prettymuch. Everything released after his death was remixes and unreleased tracks made by Dr. Dre and Tupac.

Snoop Dogg is said to be heavily involved as the movie will mostly focus on the label he formed after leaving Death Row, The Dogg Pound. That makes sense given unlike N.W.A., Death Row was quickly forgotten after Tupac’s death. The ironic thing is several artists who were with Death Row ended up dead–Tupac was just the most known. Some say that’s the reason they tried rebranding as Tha Row and why everyone left.

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